Updated: Wednesday, 02 Dec 2009, 12:56 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 01 Dec 2009, 9:57 PM EST
GREENVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - United Solar Ovonics laid off about 25 percent of its workforce at the company's Greenville facility Tuesday, a company spokesman confirmed to 24 Hour News 8.
Uni-Solar plant manager, Gary DiDio, confirms the company is experiencing layoffs. He would not confirm numbers, but said it is due to reduced demand for its products and they are forced to decrease production and production costs.
DiDio said these are difficult business decisions they have to make but they hope to rebound in the near future and be in a position to call back employees.
At an employee meeting that day, the man who asked to remain anonymous said management split workers into two groups: one group consisted of people who got to keep their jobs and the other group was laid off immediately.
"(In) the one room, everyone got to go back to work," he said. "The other room got talked to about their severance package and they turned in their badges and got sent home."
Eighty-nine production and support employees are now out of jobs just weeks before the holidays. The man showed 24 Hour News 8 a copy of his severance package, which includes three weeks salary. Insurance benefits end Dec. 5 and he received a $10 Meijer gift card, which he took as an insult.
"Two years of service (and) I get $10 while they're firing me and sending me out the door," he said.
The $10 Meijer gift cards, DiDio said were not part of the severance package but given to terminated employees because they would not be attending the holiday meal offered by the company.
Uni-Solar produces solar panels for power generators. The company received tax incentives to move to Greenville and was praised for filling part of the void left from the closing of the Electrolux plant.
But in recent months, Uni-Solar has cut workers' hours, citing slower demand for products. Even the employees who got to retain their jobs Tuesday will only work nine of 26 weeks through June.
Whether the worker was laid off was based on his or her experience level and performance reviews, the man said.
Now, without a job, his future is uncertain.
"Basically, we relocated to be closer to work so we could save money and possibly purchase a home next year, but that's not going to happen now," he said.
The biggest blow, he said, is losing his insurance benefits in four days. The way the payout is scheduled, he won't be able to collect unemployment until the end of January.
DiDio said the guidelines on whether Uni-Solar was meeting the tax incentive requirements are clear and available to the public through the MEDC. If the company meets the requirements, he said, they will continue to be eligible. If not, they won't get them.
He would not comment on future layoffs, but again said these are difficult times and hard decisions and they appreciate the continued support from the Greenville community and hope to rebound.